Star Ballplayer Ōtani Given Club's OK for Move to US (News)


Sapporo, Dec. 5 (Jiji Press)--The Hokkaidō Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball decided Monday to allow pitching and batting prodigy Ōtani Shōhei to move to the US major leagues after the 2017 season under a posting system.

The decision was made during negotiations on contract renewal between Ōtani, 22, and the Fighters at the team's office in Sapporo, Hokkaidō.

"We settled in a way that my wishes were given priority," Ōtani said after the talks. "I am grateful for the club's support."

Shimada Toshimasa, chief representative of the Fighters, said, "We considered what is best for him and for baseball as a whole."

Nippon-Ham Fighters hurler Ōtani Shōhei pitches in the Japan Series against the Hiroshima Carp on October 22, 2016. (© Jiji)

Ōtani, who made NPB history in 2016 by being selected for the Pacific League Best Nine team as a pitcher and hitter, said he was not sure of the exact time he will try to join the major leagues.

The right-pitching and left-hitting Ōtani joined the Fighters in 2013 straight out of high school. During the 2016 season he had 10 wins and 4 losses, recorded a 1.86 ERA, and hurled a record-setting 165-kph fastball. At the plate he batted .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs.

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